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Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar?Jewish Roots of Christian Worship Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: SEABURY BOOKS (September 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596271175
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596271173
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 7.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Meredith Gould, Ph.D. is the author of six books, including The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today, (Morehouse Publishing).

More About the Author

Despite academic training that included completing a doctoral dissertation, Meredith Gould never intended to write books. After grinding out academic journal articles during her decade as a Sociology professor, she graduated to writing for regular folk.

An essayist and lifestyle reporter for nearly two decades, Gould was published in magazines and newspapers -- when she wasn't writing public relations blather about pest control and wall coverings. Some sort of strange interior, possibly bio-chemical and definitely psycho-spiritual thing happened after her first book was published in 1998.

"I guess I'm a book author," says Gould, who now has nine published books to her credit. She's also swift to point out that being a mid-list author is hardly lucrative. "Providing digital strategy and editorial services pays the mortgage."

Digital strategy? An early adopter of social media, Gould is a fierce evangelist for its value for building and sustaining community. Her most recent work is focused on how social media can and should be used by faith organizations. To that end, she founded a weekly Twitter-based chat (#ChSocM) that's focused on church social media. (Read more about that: http://churchsocmed.blogspot.com)

For literary relaxation, Gould blogs about the spirituality of everyday life at More Meredith Gould (http://meredithgould.blogspot.com). For even more information, check out her LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/meredithgould. Email from readers is always welcomed!

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Gould's writing is clear and insightful.
Fran Rossi Szpylczyn
Meredith Gould's book is personal in spots, retelling key moments of her life as a Jewish convert to Catholicism.
Simon Lee
Highly recommended for Christians of any denomination, and anyone interested in interfaith understanding.
Baya Clare

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brittany Harrison on September 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
I got a copy of this book as soon as I saw that it was in print. I happened upon the author's blog by chance, as I was doing research for my Hebrew Scripture class. I am a Catholic convert, who has always wanted to understand the origins of all things Catholic. I have done much research on my own into the "Jewish roots of Catholicism", but always wished that there was a concise, but clear book on the same topic that I could share with my friends who do not share my attention span for heavily footnoted tomes. Ms. Gould's book is an answer to a prayer.

I firmly believe that if we do not appreciate the Jewish faith for all of its richness, we cannot appreciate the faith the grew out of it - Christianity. Any Catholic who reads this books will gain a deeper appreciation for our liturgical and sacramental life, as well as a newfound respect for the Jewish people.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Fran Rossi Szpylczyn on October 19, 2009
Format: Paperback
As a Catholic child of a Jewish father, I was thrilled to learn that we would be attending a Bat Mitzvah. The year was 1967 and I was 10. My parents told me that we were going to "God's other house." This got my attention because I loved Mass at our "God's house."

Entering the synagogue, I was curious about the yarmulkes for men and no chapel veils for women, the lack of statuary and candles, not to mention no Holy Communion. The Hebrew might as well have been Latin; it seemed transcendent to me.

I fell in love with this version of God's house. In fact, I could not wait to get to tell Sister Agnes Marie all about how it was totally different yet so much the same. As it happened, I can't say that Sister was as excited as I was. However, I was intrigued with whatever God had going with Judaism.

No wonder I was anxious to read, "Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? Jewish Roots of Christian Worship" by Meredith Gould (Seabury Books, $20). Gould, who was born and raised Jewish, is now a practicing Roman Catholic.

In the foreword, the author wastes no time and jumps into how her Jewishness shapes who she is to this day. Her proclamation that she is a "Jew in identity, a Christian in faith and a Catholic in religious practice" shows that her faith is wide and deep, cultural and spiritual.

Gould uses words deftly, employing humor to engage the reader while delivering words that will demand serious attention. This style, used throughout, is part of what makes the book compelling to read.

The first chapter begins with Scripture and some thoughts on reading the Bible and various translations. The author uses her knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures to illuminate how to understand these words as Christians today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Baya Clare on September 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Meredith Gould is one of those people whose calling it is to occupy the space between two societal entities. It's an uncomfortable place to live life, especially for someone who's also committed to making the world a better place. From a between-place it's possible to see things that can't be seen from inside the fences, and those things include the misconceptions each side has about the other. Christians and Jews have a lot of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and misapprehensions about one another. Some of them are harmless, some are hurtful, some have been deadly for Jews. Truth-telling, which is what those in-between dwellers like Meredith Gould do, is about healing those ancient wounds which, though familiar, are nevertheless signs of dis-ease, not only in our relationships with one another, but also in our relationship with God. If we are to be about God's work in the world, then we must attend to them.

Gould's newest book, Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar? is a good place to start. Aimed primarily at Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans, it is a very readable and even occasionally humorous guide to the Jewish antecedents of many customs and practices in liturgical churches. The author, who considers herself "a Jew in identity, a Christian in faith, and a Catholic in religious practice," did a considerable amount of research into similarities and differences with regard to scripture, historical events, and worship, and this comprises the first half of the book. In the second half of the book she looks at the sacraments of baptism,
holy communion, and confirmation to find the echos of Judaism therein.

Anyone who has been to seminary or studied theology in any depth will probably (I hope!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Simon Lee on December 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
OK, for me, Catholicism satisfies several personal needs: spiritual, educational, logical and emotional. Being Catholic also means I get to study and learn for the rest of my life, and "Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar: The Jewish Roots of Christian Worship" certainly helps satisfy the longing for "continuing religious education," while both teaching and pushing to learn/read/discuss more.

Meredith Gould's book is personal in spots, retelling key moments of her life as a Jewish convert to Catholicism. And while being intensely personal at moments, her book is not off-puttingly so. Not off-putting at all, in fact. By sharing her sacramental interactions and path toward her conversion, she adds to the richness of her biblical and historical observations of both Judaism and Christianity.

This book is part Bible study guide, part historical guide, part prayer/meditation guide. By the author's blending these various components into a single book, the reader is left with a deeper, more connected and spiritual understanding of Christianity. The references to Hebrew scripture that carry through to the Gospel and other New Testament passages certainly will explain why Catholics (and other liturgical-based Christian faith traditions) do some of the things we do and see some of the things we see in the sanctuary. If you've ever felt that your connection to Jesus through the Church was one based in ancient practices and beliefs, then understanding and developing a connection to the "roots" of those traditions and teachings will bring great joy to you as it did as I read this book, contemplated the questions posed and meditated on the thoughts suggested.
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